If you’re a summer athlete who would rather be biking or running on mountain trails instead of dancing down them on skis or a snowboard, here’s news you’ll like: There’s still a semblance of summer available. In winter, some activities just move indoors.
Of course, it’s never quite the same inside four walls. The field is always smaller and less varied. But taking advantage of the chance to play and practice, even on a limited scale, will keep your skills honed. When spring rolls around again, you won’t be rusty.
There are also athletic benefits to participating in summer sports over the next five or six months, even if your real favorite activity does take place on snow-covered mountains. First, it’s great cross training. Experts know it’s nearly impossible to ski or snowboard yourself into shape, because you can’t develop all the muscles you need for everything the mountain may throw at you. Nearly every elite athlete improves functional strength and speed by cross training in different sports; it builds the small, but important “helper” muscles and extends ranges of motion so that envelopes can be pushed without disaster. Another big plus: Indoor summer sports are easier and less intense. It’s an excellent time to learn a new sport or perfect your moves for one you already do. In addition, participating in a pulse-raising indoor sport breaks up the monotony of regular gym workouts.
Here are some available indoor sports:
BMX: Rad Canyon BMX (Salt Lake County Equestrian Center, 2100 W. 11400 South, South Jordan, 801-254-0106, RadCanyonBMX.com) offers nine weekends of racing at the Salt Lake County Equestrian Center in South Jordan, starting the first weekend of November. If you’re not a BMX rider, bring your mountain bike. Track director Ron Melton says, “It’s an excellent place for people to start [BMX]. Because of limited space and limited dirt, we build a much more mellow course. The jumps aren’t as big; it’s a lot more forgiving and very good for new riders with limited experience.”
During the hour and a half allotted for race registration, riders can practice on the course; racers are categorized by age and ability level. An ABA license is required, which costs $45 and is good for one year. Most of the races in the series are $10.
Running: The Olympic Oval in Kearns (5662 S. Cougar Lane [4800 West], Kearns, 801-968-6825, OlyParks.com) isn’t limited to skating. The two ice rinks and speedskating oval are surrounded by a running track that allows you to put miles on your running shoes. No matter what the temperature outside, it’s always in the low to mid-60 range indoors, so it’s comfortable whether you run or walk.
The track is open from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Saturday hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The track is 442 meters. One mile is just under four times around. It costs $3 to use the track; a discounted 10-time “punch pass” is $27.50.
Soccer: Yes, there is drop-in soccer during winter—as well as team league play. Salt Lake Indoor Soccer (4926 S. Box Elder St., Murray, 801-262-8988, LetsPlaySoccer.com) in a Murray warehouse with field turf to play on. Adult play goes all year; youth games start the first week of November and continue until the third week of March.
“We can place adults or children on a team, and we offer a lot of different skill levels,” says facility manager Brittany Sharp. “Children can start as young as 4 years old. You don’t have to be on a team to do the open play, but you do have to be 18 for that. It’s definitely a good way to keep up your skills for next season.” The playing field is about half the size of a regular soccer field, with only five players on each side, plus a goalkeeper. Fees for a league team are $500 (plus $10 per game for referee fees) or $58 for an individual. That price includes eight games.